Prices in pubs could rise as support for hospitality industry ends
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Pubs in Suffolk face "difficult decisions" over price rises as support for the hospitality industry starts to be withdrawn, bosses have said.
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said its members expect to lose out on £25million in revenue from pint sales this bank holiday weekend.
That is down 10% on the August bank holiday weekend of 2019, before Covid struck.
The BBPA is urging the government to invest in the sector to help bridge the gap now the majority of coronavirus restrictions have been lifted.
It says the UK brewing and pub sectors are “grossly overtaxed” and the government must reform or cut taxes.
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Earlier this week, the trade association said pubs will overpay £570m a year on business rates from March 2022, unless the system is reformed.
Nick Attfield, director of properties at Southwold-based brewery and pub chain Adnams, said "there are some difficult decisions and difficult discussions taking place" over price rises.
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He added: "Customer prices have remained reasonably stagnant since 2019 — mainly due to the fact that the VAT holiday has filled that gap."
The government reduced the rate of VAT to just 5% for food and non-alcoholic drink sold by hospitality businesses in July 2020.
The lower rate ends on September 30, when it increases to 12.5% until March 31 2022. It will then return to 20%.
Mr Attfield said: "My worry is we're reliant on the lower rate now and that customers will face a bit of a shock when it goes back up on October 1.
"The future of pubs remains perilous. It was already perilous before Covid, and now its even more so."
The BBPA and East Anglian pub companies such as Adnams and Greene King are backing the Long Live The Local campaign, which calls for government investment in pubs as part of the post-Covid recovery.
A Greene King spokesman said: "For a number of years, it has been widely discussed that pubs in the UK pay a far higher amount of beer duty compared with other countries.
"Now, with the pubs and brewing industry looking to rebuild after the impact of Covid-19 restrictions, it’s even more important for the government to reduce beer duty and reform an unfair business rates system to allow pubs to recover and support their communities.”